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Welcome to Week 6 of the 2021 Footballguys Roundtable. Our intrepid and oddball panel of fantasy pundits discuss and debate Week 5's breakouts/emerging options, their FBGs Subscriber Contest entries, Buy-Sell-Hold options for dynasty leagues, and a preview of Sunday's Browns-Cardinals tilt.
Week 5' True Reveal
Matt Waldman: Which players showed their true 2021 self in Week 5? Which players' Week 5 were aberrations?
Where do you stand?
Mark Schofield: Let's start with the bad news. The two players whose performances in Week 4 were aberrations were Njoku and Mills. Now, I've been a believer in Njoku longer than I'd care to admit, but the targets are just not coming on a consistent enough basis for me to buy in right now. Five targets in Week 1, three in Week 2, none in Week 3, when he still saw 50 snaps, and just two targets in Week 4. Now look, perhaps the Baker Mayfield we saw last week is what we will see going forward, and he'll look to Njoku more. But wishing and hoping never quite got me there in life and...that's what you'd be doing right now.
As for Mills? The New England Patriots had some breakdowns in coverage that led to two of his big plays and the benching of cornerback Joejuan Williams. Another big play was a YOLO throw to a receiver who bailed him out and then scored after the catch when the safety took a bad angle.
The good news? Toney believers were treated to a taste of what he can be in the NFL. Well, at least until he channeled Mike Tyson for a moment. But when on the field he can be a dangerous weapon and with all the injuries in New York, Jason Garrett is going to continue trying to feed him targets. They've started to call concepts designed to get him the football both in space and downfield, and if you paid attention to what I said about Dawson Knox, you'll know that usually grabs my attention.
Andy Hicks: Week 4's aberrations were pretty clear — Mills, Njoku, and Moore. The other three in Woods, Toney, and Mattison no doubt had monster numbers that will not be repeated often, but they are more likely to get close to on occasion.
The Rams had a clear plan to get the ball more often to Woods and his numbers bore that out. Winning helps them use it in the future. He posted similar numbers against the Bucs last year, but outside that had his usual WR2/WR3 days all around it. Woods will not disappoint often, but his week-to-week upside makes him a must-start.
Toney had a breakout game that had me reminiscing about Tyreek Hill’s arrival from big-play threat to legitimate fantasy receiver against the Colts in 2016. Toney also displayed his volatile side with an ejection for a ridiculous punch. Opposing secondaries will be testing his temperament frequently. I am not sure if he is mature enough to handle this attention just yet.
Mattison has had many occasions to showcase his wares given the injury history of Dalvin Cook. He may be that rare running back that lands a big free-agent contract as a backup. Mattison isn’t as dynamic as Cook but is polished and effective. If Cook continues to miss time, Mattison is a top 10 running back in most weeks.
Scott Bischoff: I think Woods, Toney, and Mattison are players that showed what they can be, but I answer this in a general sense as it is tough to project the kind of volume that all received in Week 5. From a talent standpoint, it is there for all three of them, and it is simply a matter of usage.
Woods is a proven NFL receiver capable of creating quick, easy separation. It was unlikely the Rams' offense would squander his abilities while force-feeding Kupp. There is volatility with Woods’ production, but his talent is undeniable, and it is reasonable to think that Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford will work to keep him involved.
Toney is a super unique player as his lateral agility is outrageous. You can see it in his route running, and when he has the ball in his hands. He is going to create yards after the catch by making defenders miss. The Giants receiving corps is banged up and that pushes Toney into a prominent role, and he should continue to be productive.
Mattison is a very capable running back as he has shown repeatedly when Cook misses time. He is a strong runner, but also a very skilled receiver out of the backfield, and that is a fantastic combination for fantasy production. It also helps that the Vikings' offense is potent and capable of scoring plenty of points. Mattison is a high-end fantasy running back when Cook is out.
Jordan McNamara: Cook has missed two weeks and in each week of those missed weeks, Mattison has 32 touches. He has revealed himself as a high-level injury away running back capable of making a difference if given the opportunity. Woods is still a WR2 for fantasy. The first four weeks were the Cooper Kupp show, and he is still the best wide receiver on the Rams, but Woods should settle into the WR2 range of the position the rest of the season.
I do not envy Mills. He was placed in an unwinnable situation in the Houston offense after Tyrod Taylor was injured, with the worst supporting cast in the league. His Week 5 performance against the Patriots was the most surprising performance of the week, and one I do not expect to continue going forward.
James Brimacombe: I think Woods, Toney, and Mattison are the three players that are all good football players and everything came together for them in Week 5. Woods has loads of talent and has proven himself over the years but just took a few weeks to get out of the Cooper Kupp shadow. Toney was a rookie I was high on at the end of all of my Best Ball drafts this year as he was a 1st round draft pick and had the talent to perform at the next level. He obviously needed a bunch of things to go right for him to get the opportunity to put up such a big stat line but it has already happened and now that the Giants are hurt by injuries they will be starved for a playmaker like Toney and I think the trend continues. Mattison has been labeled the best handcuff in fantasy drafts over the past three seasons as the talent has always been there and it was more a situation of him seeing the opportunity. I think he has earned more playing time regardless if and when Dalvin Cook is on the field.
I am not too excited about Mills, Moore, or even Njoku moving forward. They might each have another decent week or two but I just don't see consistency in their games and them being players you can feel good about inserting into your lineup. Njoku might be the exception as the Browns are hurting for pass catchers at the moment and he looks as if he is starting to grow a connection with Baker Mayfield.
Dan Hindery: Toney showed his true self. I play a lot of college football daily fantasy and rarely played Toney because he was very expensive given his moderate usage. However, he burnt me so many times because he seemed to do something magical after the catch on such a regular basis. He is a dynamic enough player that the Giants will want to continue to find ways to get the ball in his hands. While his stat line was inflated due to injuries to the other wide receivers, Toney has shown his playmaking ability and forced the Giants to feed him more moving forward.
Mattison is a talented back and proved there is not too much of a drop-off when Dalvin Cook is sidelined. Unfortunately, Cook being banged up has been a regular occurrence throughout his career. The Vikings have to be thinking that dialing back Cook’s workload when he returns is a good idea. It will not cost them much at all to give some of those snaps to Mattison and could go a long way towards prolonging Cook’s career.
Njoku’s career day was an aberration. He should remain a contributor in the Cleveland offense. He has played between 59% and 67% of the snaps each week. However, much of his production came on one long play after a horrible tackle attempt by a Chargers safety. Njoku has averaged just 3.4 targets per game and given the run-heavy nature and playmaking depth of the Cleveland offense, there are going to be weeks where he is barely involved.
Victoria Geary: Mattison has filled in for Cook twice already this season in Weeks 3 and 5. In both outings, he averaged 67% of snaps, 26 rushing attempts, 113 rushing yards, 8 targets, and 50 receiving yards: rare bell-cow running back usage. Mattison finished as the PPR RB7 and RB6 in those two games, showing he can easily fill in for Cook and perform at a very high level whenever he is called upon. He is the most valuable handcuff in the league right now.
Woods finally gave fantasy managers the game they had been waiting for. I mentioned a few times on podcasts last week that in Week 3, head coach Sean McVay explained to beat reporters that he needed to get wide receiver DeSean Jackson more involved in the game. Jackson then proceeded to explode the following week for 120 yards and a score. McVay said the exact same thing about Woods last week before their Week 5 matchup, and it led to a whopping 14 targets and 150 total receiving yards. Woods will continue to possess a high weekly PPR floor for those who took a chance on him in the early rounds of their drafts, with favorable matchups ahead in the Giants, Lions, and Texans.
Toney quieted everyone’s pre-draft narratives this weekend, racking up 189 yards on 13 targets. He may have soured his breakout performance slightly when he committed one of the silliest acts you can think of in an NFL game: attempting to punch someone who is wearing a helmet. It remains to be seen if the league will suspend Toney for a game or two, but he looked like the real deal on the field and was a hot waiver wire add this week. I am looking forward to seeing if he can keep it up when the rest of the Giants receiving corps is healthy again.
Njoku, Mills, and Moore were aberrations in Week 5, although I have to give it up to Mills for showing a ton of grit up against a Patriots defense known for silencing rookie quarterbacks. Mills is the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to finish a game with three touchdowns, 300 or more passing yards, and a passer rating of 140.0 or higher.
FBG's Subscriber Contest
Waldman: Footballguys has a fantastic subscriber contest. Let's talk about our participation, although we're not eligible to win.
- Is your team still alive?
- What was your strategy for picking a team? How many players did you use?
- Who are your four most expensive players?
- Who are your four cheapest players?
- Who are 1-3 players who have matched or outperformed his price on your team?
- Who are 1-3 players who have underperformed to their prices on your team?
Tell our subscribers about your entry.
Hindery: My team is dead.
Waldman: No shame in that game. Tell us about it.
Hindery: I used 26 players. My strategy was to roster three top running backs and rely on depth at other positions. My most expensive players were Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Najee Harris, and Jerry Jeudy. My cheapest players were three defenses and three kickers at a price of $2-$3. My cheapest skill player was Marques Valdes-Scantling, also $3.
Antonio Brown ($10) and Jakobi Meyers ($6) have been nice bargains. Unfortunately, injuries hit my team hard, McCaffrey was my most expensive player and Jeudy my most expensive receiver. Spending $11 on Gus Edward hurt since I lost him before the season started.
Waldman: We...I'm still alive but I have to think a ton of teams made the play for Edwards and got snake bit. Andy, how are you doing?
Hicks: Less than 10 staffers are still alive, I'm fortunately one of them.
Waldman: I had no idea that many are gone already. So, what about your entry?
Hicks: Usually, I pick the bones of the middle-level players and avoid the top tier. This year I consciously had an elite player at all positions and picked around them. I always pick 30 players where possible. I always choose three kickers and three defenses to deal with a week-to-week variance and byes. That leaves 24 players to use on the other four positions.
Patrick Mahomes II, Tyreek Hill, Ezekiel Elliott, and Travis Kelce are my most expensive options. I have too much reliance on the Chiefs and their bye in week 12 will be my likely elimination point if I make it that far. Ideally, I would have preferred an elite player from four different teams with four different byes.
My cheapest players were defenses and kickers, probably like most. I had three defenses worth $2 and two of my three kickers cost $3. Outside that, I had three wide receivers valued at $3 (DeSean Jackson, Marques Valdes-Scantling, and Demarcus Robinson) and two $3 running backs (Rhamondre Stevenson and Wayne Gallman). I have 9 other skill players that cost $5 or less, which, if you're counting, I have 20 players on my roster that cost $5 or less.
Running Back is by far my weakest unit and throwing $16 at Damien Harris is probably my biggest regret. He has counted three times to my score, but that highlights the lack of depth I have here. Spending $10 on Jameis Winston was unnecessary given the amount spent on Mahomes. Taking both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo for about the same price, which I also did, was all I needed to do.
Brimacombe: My team is also eliminated. I love this contest every year and I always find a way to pick 30 players as I know it is a long season and injuries will happen. I spent $23 each on Allen Robinson and CeeDee Lamb, my most expensive options. Outside of defense and kickers, my cheapest options were Rhamondre Stevenson $3, Marquez Valdes-Scantling $3, Dan Arnold $4, and K.J. Hamler $4.
James Robinson for $16 has earned me RB1 value for such a reasonable price. I drafted him based on Travis Etienne missing the season and took the value in Robinson. Michael Pittman ($9) has been an excellent value as well as I drafted him with the hopes of a breakout season and he hasn't disappointed yet.
Waldman: What killed your team?
McNamara: I was knocked out after Week 5, which was a major disappointment as I was 20% over the cutoff line in each of the prior four weeks.
Waldman: I always hate when that happens. For several years, I have found myself riding high early on and then one rough week and it's over.
McNamara: My strategy was to have some depth at tight end, going with Logan Thomas, Tyler Higbee, Rob Gronkowski, and Donald Parham, but the Thomas and Gronkowski injuries hurt. I also went cheap with volume at the wide receiver position while paying up at running back.
My three most expensive players were Elliott, Chris Carson, Tyler Lockett, and D.J. Moore. My four cheapest players other than defenses were Teddy Bridgewater, Mark Ingram, DeSean Jackson, and Donald Parham. I got four good weeks from Moore, James Robinson, and Elliott which were good performances during my short stay in the contest. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryan Edwards were disappointing. Neither scored in my lineup.
Schofield: Since Scott, Victory, and I didn't submit an entry, what about you, Matt?
Waldman: I am still alive. Usually, I get knocked out between Weeks 4-7, often due to injury. This year, I rolled with a mix of "my guys" I wanted in re-draft formats who I thought were premium producers for mid-range prices and then went cheaper options with the exception of three running backs: Antonio Gibson ($26), Nick Chubb ($26), and Kareem Hunt ($20) as some of my most expensive players. The only other players I paid at least $20 to acquire were Mike Evans ($21) and Chris Godwin ($20).
As you can imagine, my strategy involved the Tampa Stack and I'd say Tom Brady ($17), Antonio Brown ($10), and Rob Gronkowski ($9) have been decent values although Gronkowski's injury has me leaning on Jared Cook ($10) who has been up and down.
Like everyone else, I spent no more than $3 on my three defenses — Cleveland, Green Bay, and Dallas. And Dallas has been a bargain for me. My cheapest skill players were $3-$5 plays on A.J. Green, Marquez Callaway, Sammy Watkins, Bryan Edwards, DeSean Jackson, and Albert Okwuegbunam. Edwards, Okwuegbunam, Justin Fields, Trey Sermon, and Gus Edwards are the only players who haven't registered enough points to contribute in the contest for my roster in any given week.
I actually lucked out in Week 4 because Brady had a rough game and if it weren't for Trey Lance's strong second half as an injury-sub for Jimmy Garoppolo, I wouldn't have made the cut. Week 9 is my heaviest bye week due to the Tampa Stack, but with Fields starting for the rest of the year, I'm hoping he and the Browns' backfield can carry me over what seems like an annual hump for me in this contest.
Waldman: From the following list of players in dynasty leagues, which three players would you be buying, selling, and/or holding?
- Baker Mayfield
- Henry Ruggs
- James Robinson
- Trey Sermon
- Elijah Mitchell
- Zach Wilson
- Davis Mills
- Chris Moore
- Antonio Brown
- Hunter Renfrow
- David Njoku
- Tommy Tremble
- Donald Parham
Give us your picks.
Bischoff: I would be buying Sermon as long as the price is right. I know this is contrarian thinking, but it is not going to cost much to make this move. His price should be less than what someone paid to draft him, and I’ll take a swing on a talented runner in the 49ers offense, even with the ugly start Sermon has had.
Wilson is a player I am holding. He needs time, but he has already shown high-end flashes and I think if he gets it sorted out, he can produce at a very high level. There will be bad weeks coming, but his skill set fits today’s game so well, and he is worth the wait.
I would sell Brown and get comfortable watching him light up defenses this year knowing his value is only in the very short term. He is going to have big weeks and should have a very strong year, but I think using his short-term production to upgrade is a smart move.
Geary: After a rough start to the season, Robinson has now averaged 17 rushing attempts, 105 yards, and 22.6 PPR points per game over the last three weeks. Managers may still be skeptical investing in an Urban Meyer-led offense, so be sure to put some feelers out to buy Robinson if you are a contender.
Renfrow has finished with at least 10 or more PPR points per game this entire season, so he isn’t killing you in lineups but he will never have the kind of top-tier upside that can win you your week. Try to package Renfrow to sweeten a deal in acquiring a younger receiving asset for your teams such as Kadarius Toney or DeVonta Smith on down weeks they disappoint for fantasy.
As much as Wilson has struggled in his rookie season, I am holding him in dynasty. He has shown flashes of greatness and completed passes that make your jaw drop… until he turns around and makes you think, “What in the world did he see there?!” This Jets offense is still looking for their true identity, but they have a solid coaching staff that will continue to shape Wilson’s confidence as each week passes. Stick with him through the good, bad, and ugly this season and enjoy the rollercoaster ride.
Brimacombe: The Browns are currently one of the league's top running teams so Mayfield isn't expected to be a gunslinger. I think in a year or two things could open up in the passing game making him a valuable fantasy QB. I'm holding onto him. Once the Jaguars get things figured out with coaching and a solid core of players, Robinson will hopefully get the respect he deserves. In a year and a quarter he continues to be the best Jaguars player each game. Buy.
Renfrow is never going to win you a league with his upside. He is consistent in making a handful of catches each week but the ceiling never seems to be there. Sell.
Hicks: I would be buying all the Tremble I could get. At a position that lacks depth, his elite upside is already on display. Might take a couple of years in further development, but unlike Kyle Pitts, he is being used more in the traditional manner. Hold James Robinson. He has impressed and overachieved with two coaching groups and probably will have to do a third sooner rather than later. I would sell David Njoku after that huge game. Advertise it as him being ready. He does seem to have more focus and ambition this year, but he strikes me as the kind of player looking for a big free-agent deal before returning to old ways.
Schofield: Two players I am holding right now in my own dynasty leagues are James Robinson and Zach Wilson. When it comes to Robinson, I'm looking at their offense recently with him being featured more, as well as reading the comments from embattled head coach Urban Meyer, and putting the easy two and two together. 18 carries each of the past two weeks, his first 100-plus-yard game, and now you have Meyer talking about how he wants to hit 250 rushing yards and 250 passing yards in each game. They're going to keep feeding him.
I know Wilson has struggled, but despite those struggles, there are signs he is going to figure things out. With the capital the Jets invested in him, they are going to try and make this work. Then, with the talent around the quarterback position they have started to assemble, there will be better days ahead.
If you can find someone itchy to take Mills in a trade, I'd go for it. As outlined above, I'm not convinced he is a long-term answer for Houston. But if someone is willing to pay for a quarterback who thrived thanks to blown coverages and YOLO balls, get what you can and move on.
McNamara: I was a huge Trey Sermon fan entering the NFL, but I'm flummoxed by the "Shanahannigans" going on in San Francisco. Shanahan's prior usage of Raheem Mostert was instructive. When Mostert was out, no matter who played and how well they played while Mostert was out, Mostert returned to his job. That is exactly what happened with Mitchell returning in Week 5, which makes Sermon a tough asset to hold or sell.
For the same reasons above, I think Mitchell is a hold because he appears to be the starting running back if healthy. Robinson is playing like one of the better running backs in the league and is the beneficiary of the Travis Etienne injury. After some early-season turbulence, Robinson has settled in nicely and is a good long-term hold unless receiving top 10 running back value in return in season-long leagues.
Hindery: I'm buying Renfrow, who is currently on pace for 95 catches, 1,037 receiving yards, and 7 touchdowns. More importantly, nothing about his current pace feels unsustainable. In fact, his snap rate has been steadily creeping up every week (from 44% Week 2 to 75% Week 5). While Renfrow is not a guy who is going to carry you to a championship, he is a useful piece to have — especially with bye weeks coming up. Renfrow is extremely cheap to trade for and is the type of guy you want to have on your contending roster
I'm holding Robinson if I have him. His production for the rest of the season will be very valuable. Plus, with each strong performance, he adds to the odds he is able to remain the lead back next season. On the other hand, I am not rushing out to acquire Robinson. His medium-term outlook over the next few seasons remains cloudy and difficult to predict with any real confidence
I'm selling Sermon. Eli Mitchell out-snapped Sermon 44-2 this week. Sermon still has relatively strong dynasty trade value due to starring at a major program, earning some strong pre-draft grades, and having Day 2 draft capital. He is only five games into his NFL career and has plenty of time to turn things around, but it has been an inauspicious start given his inability to capitalize on the injury to Raheem Mostert. It feels like the arrow is pointing down. At this point, I would happily cash out for an early 2nd-round pick next draft to take another swing on young talent.
Waldman: I'm buying Sermon. We may learn later on that something happened behind the scenes that led to this surprising change of expected events but until we do, I'll buy into talent. I'm holding Robinson and I'm selling Wilson. While I can see a path for Wilson's improvement, ultimately, I'm not a believer. His game has a ton of "icing" that appeals because he can do some of the off-script things that change games. However, I think he lacks enough "cake" that he'll never figure out how to acquire, especially from the pocket and his feel for leverage.
While I think Mark is right about Davis Mills as a sell — if he was ever a buy — I think he made some nice throws last week that exhibited strong placement that wasn't the result of coverage breakdowns. I'm still intrigued. I might even say, if you can get him as a very cheap throw-in, I'd made a speculative purchase.
Waldman: The Cardinals are the only undefeated team in the league and the Browns have proven capable of delivering points despite being a run-heavy offense. I asked about the Cardinals' matchup last week. If you were a part of this, it would be worthwhile for you to look at your previous answers to see if anything has changed your point of view.
Statistically, the Cardinals' defense allows 229.4 passing yards and 1.4 passing touchdowns per game. They have faced two top-10 fantasy QBs, two rookies, and Ryan Tannehill missing his LT.
Arizona appeared stingy in the box score against the 49ers but it was Trey Lance's first start and the Minnesota Vikings' running backs operate a similar scheme as Cleveland. They earned 28 touches and 176 yards from scrimmage in Week 2. They also limited Derrick Henry to a non-fantasy factor in Week 1.
Answer the following:
- Forecast Baker Mayfield's performance on the field, in the box score, and ranking in Week 6 and whether David Njoku and/or Austin Hooper will factor.
- Will the Cardinals' passing game produce early and often enough to limit the Cleveland ground game due to game script or is this futile?
- After DeAndre Hopkins, who is the most productive Cardinals receiver this week?
- Chase Edmonds, James Conner, both, or neither?
What's going down on Sunday?
Hindery: Arizona’s pass defense ranks 3rd-best in DVOA while the rush defense ranks 13th-best. The stats match what I have seen with my eyes. This is a solid run defense that is slightly better than league average but a very tough pass defense, especially with the way defensive end Chandler Jones has been playing. Given the relative strengths of both the Browns' offense and the Cardinals' defense, a run-heavy game plan from the Browns is the most likely scenario. This feels like it should be business as usual for the Cleveland running backs, which you will take if you have Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt.
Baker Mayfield is the QB25 on the season. He has been fine in what has been more of a game-manager role. However, the touchdowns just have not been there. Amongst the quarterbacks who have started every game, Mayfield is tied for last (with Zach Wilson) in touchdown passes, averaging just 0.8 per game. I would rank him out of the Top 20 quarterbacks for Week 6.
Neither Austin Hooper nor David Njoku is getting consistent volume. Njoku had a big Week 5 but did so playing almost exactly the same amount of snaps he did in Week 3 when he saw 0 targets. He is seeing just 3.4 targets per game on the season. Hooper is averaging just 3.2 targets per game. Even if there was more consistent volume, this is a rough matchup. Opposing tight ends are averaging 3.2 catches for 24.4 yards per game against this defense.
James Conner and Chase Edmonds are both fine low-end RB2 plays but their usage limits their upside. Conner is averaging only 0.8 targets per game. In PPR formats, that makes him virtually unusable unless you project him for multiple touchdowns. For Edmonds, the targets are there (5.2 per game) and he is averaging 9.8 carries per game. However, he has only four touches inside the 10-yard line, which is a big reason why he has yet to score a touchdown and vastly limits his fantasy upside.
I wouldn’t trust any of the Cardinals' secondary receivers in my lineup but if forced to pick one, would go with Rondale Moore. He has still yet to play even half the snaps in any game this season. However, when he is on the field, the Cardinals do try to get the ball into his hands. He had nine opportunities (three carries and six targets) last week.
Brimacombe: I think Mayfield will have to open it up more this week especially if the Cardinals put up points early. With both Chubb and Hunt as the focal points in the offense, it is always hard to predict how well Mayfield will perform week to week. In this matchup, I view Mayfield as around QB8-10 range on the week with 300 passing yards and 2 touchdowns in play. I think both Njoku and Hooper can factor in as the Browns will have to continue to spread the ball to whatever pass catchers they have active on game day.
The Cardinals can score quickly and that is how I predict this game to go with the Cardinals getting a touchdown or two and forcing the Browns to limit the ground game. I don't see them limiting Chubb and Hunt until well into the third quarter though as they know that those two are the key to the offensive success regardless of game script.
Give me Christian Kirk to have a big game as he has shown in the past that he can break out any given week. I think Edmonds is a bit healthier this week and touches will be pretty even between the two. They might have to count on Edmonds more in the passing game to move the ball against a tougher defensive opponent, and Conner would be the answer if you are looking to bink a goal-line touchdown.
McNamara: Assuming the Browns can maintain a manageable game script, I think the Browns can be balanced enough and run play-action well enough on early downs to help Mayfield be a fringe QB1 with a couple of touchdowns. If he is forced into a negative game script with a high pass probability, I have a lot less faith he can produce near 300 yards because he has struggled when needing to do the work on his own.
I think the game will be close because the Browns' defense can hang with the Cardinals' offense early. I think it is more likely the Cardinals lead by multiple scores than the Browns lead by multiple scores.
I'll trust A.J. Green, just because he runs the second most routes. I'm really interested to see the positional preferences of the Cardinals with Maxx Williams out. If this signals a Rondale Moore expansion in the offense, he can have a good rookie season breakout over the remainder of the season.
I trust Edmonds over Conner because he is 3 to 1 over Conner in the receiving game workload. They run a similar amount of carries, but Edmonds's usage in the passing game secures his workload in negative game scripts. If Edmonds were to miss time, I do think Conner can consolidate the workload.
Geary: The Cardinals have held opposing quarterbacks to an average of 17 points per game, which is actually at Mayfield’s higher end of performances this year in 4-point passing touchdown leagues. He is no better than a low-end QB2 who will likely struggle in this game, as the Cardinals fight to stay the only undefeated team in the league. It is worth noting Mayfield has only eclipsed 320 yards passing once this season. Njoku’s performance in Week 5 felt like a flash in the pan. Look for Hooper to be more involved this week, though it is ill-advised to start either tight end this week in your lineups. The Cardinals are surrendering the fewest fantasy points to tight ends on a weekly basis.
I fully expect the Cardinals to take advantage of the film from the Chargers’ well-executed game plan against the Browns last week. Arizona has the receiving corps to emulate what Herbert, Williams, and Ekeler were able to do against the Browns’ secondary, which should give them a massive advantage. It remains to be seen if the Cardinals can stop this hot Cleveland rushing attack on the ground, however, so we may see this game become a little more defensive than we’d like for fantasy purposes.
Two things I hit on last week: “Production from the Arizona Cardinals receiving corps is going to be a headache to predict on a weekly basis… and we know Hopkins isn’t going to stay quiet for long.”
I will however take the “L” on guessing that Green seemed to be coming into his own. After racking up 13 or more PPR points per game three weeks in a row (JUST when you were confident enough to play him), Green belly-flopped for 2.3 total points last week. Moore saw the most efficIency in Week 5, but once we were able to trust him a few weeks back, he belly-flopped the following week as well. It may be best to sit this one out with the rest of Arizona's receiving corps, especially against a Browns defense surrendering the 12th fewest WR fantasy points. The easy answer here is that Edmonds is the most consistent receiver you can trust after Hopkins, and has seen consistent RB2 production in four out of five weeks this season.
Edmonds is still my go-to running back choice of this backfield as long as he is healthy. Before last week’s game where he played a bit banged up, he was the PPR RB12 overall without scoring a touchdown, averaging 15 points per game. Even with a hobbled Edmonds in Week 5, Conner still only mustered up 10 carries for 29 yards and a score. Edmonds is still the front-runner on this high-octane offense.
Hicks: I suspect it will come down to the Browns' defense being able to stop the Cardinals' offense. If they can do that, Mayfield, Njoku, and Hooper will be almost unplayable. The Browns have struggled thus far with the two high-powered offenses faced so far in the Chiefs and Chargers. The Cardinals also start hot so the Browns are going to have to put up points. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will have good days, so even on a high-scoring day, Mayfield will be a top 15 quarterback only. Njoku, Hooper, and Harrison Bryant will split a touchdown between the three of them. Good luck picking which one.
Arizona is due for a letdown game and I suspect this will be it. If they get an early touchdown all bets are off though. Scoring on the first or second possession is always tough to predict. The Browns need this game more than the Cardinals so I expect lots of pressure on Kyler Murray early.
Edmonds is more likely to break a big one and get receptions. Conner may sneak a touchdown, but it will be hard to come by as will the chunks of yardage he needs to be productive. Advantage Edmonds.
Schofield: People like me fired some shots in the direction of Mayfield last week after a woeful performance against the Minnesota Vikings.
Waldman: In this case, I am people like you.
Schofield: Welcome to my idiot life, I'm the idiot who forgot to turn in my Subscriber Contest entry!
Bischoff: I am sorry to say I failed to submit an entry and I think Mark and I could get a sweet podcast off the ground titled "Welcome to My Idiot Life."
Geary: Do you need a third Stooge?
Schofield: Sure, I bet we can get some sweet sponsors, Scott. Maybe that sponsor Waldman had in his ad read for Week 5's Quick Game Pod...
Bischoff: I'll have to check that out.
Waldman: Please do...
Schofield: Spit-take alert.
Schofield: Back to Mayfield who responded with a much better outing against the Chargers, but there are still questions he needs to answer. On Cleveland's final drive of the game, it looked like Kevin Stefanski kept the training wheels on, and Mayfield also had an opportunity to hit Odell Beckham Jr on a deep crossing route prior to the final play that might have put the Browns down near the red zone.
Still, Mayfield is one of the more competitive people in the league, and you can bet he'll want to go out and have a huge game coming off the loss. I'd imagine he throws for another pair of touchdowns in a solid outing, but again, there might be the one big mistake that costs Cleveland the game. I'd also imagine this game plan runs through the boundaries and not the tight ends, given the presence of players like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the middle of the field.
Cleveland's defense has not quite gelled the way people expected, at least in the secondary. There were a number of breakdowns in coverage last week and the Chargers were able to take advantage. So the Cardinals might hit on some plays early. But Stefanski has stuck with the ground game even when trailing at times this season, so even if the game script gets away from Cleveland a bit, I'd imagine Nick Chubb will still get his carries.
Like many, I am climbing aboard the Moore hype train. His snap counts are on the rise, and with the injury to Maxx Williams, the Cardinals are going to be using more three- and four-WR packages. He will get more opportunities, and with Hopkins and Green drawing attention, he will get more targets as well.
Bischoff: As others have said, the pace and score of this game dictate Mayfield’s ceiling. He is playing a touch banged up, and the running attack certainly hurts his fantasy value, and I am not expecting huge numbers in Week 6 for Mayfield. I see him being a middle-of-the-road QB2 with a small chance to outperform in the event the Browns defense underperforms, forcing the Browns' aerial attack to be more aggressive. It is tough to pin down which tight end might be relevant in this game.
The Cardinals' passing attack has been efficient after a hot start, and Murray is also a bit banged up coming in this game. I don’t see the Cardinals opening up and going full throttle with the Browns' ability to rush the passer, and with the Browns ground game prioritized, it is reasonable to see a slow, grind-it-out type of game.
This is a tough question as there is no good answer other than Edmonds, but that does not mean that Edmonds comes out of the game with more production than the receivers. It just means the story for Edmonds to get more production is much easier to tell. I am playing Edmonds and chasing the receptions on this game.